Fire Extinguishers on Campus

The vast majority of extinguishers on campus are multipurpose, dry chemical units that are rated for use with Class A, B and C fires. There are also carbon dioxide extinguishers on campus and are rated for use with Class B and C fires.

Type K extinguishers are installed on campus in areas of commercial cooking operations. Typically, these are only accessible to staff members assigned to that area.

Image of Fire Extinguisher Types

  • Class A – Use on fuels such as wood, paper, plastic, rubber, and cloth
  • Class B – Use on flammable liquids
  • Class C – Use on electrical equipment
  • Class D – Use on combustible metals (magnesium, potassium, titanium, etc.)
  • Class K – Use on combustible cooking media

In the event of a fire, we are all confronted with the decision of whether to fight the flames with an extinguisher or evacuate the building immediately. This is probably the most important decision you will face when a fire breaks out.

If you are not trained in portable extinguisher use, the answer is easy: you should evacuate, and never attempt to fight a fire if you do not have extinguisher training. If you are trained with extinguishers, however, there are many things to consider when deciding to put out a fire.

Questions to Ask Yourself

  1. Is the fire small enough to be controlled by a portable fire extinguisher?
  2. You should never attempt to put out a fire that is larger than a small office trash bin. If the fire begins to spread, your best option is to evacuate the building.
  3. Am I safe from toxic smoke and gasses? 
  4. If the fire is producing large amounts of smoke, or you suspect the fire involves a hazardous material, your best option is to evacuate the building.
  5. Do I have an escape route?
  6. Before attempting to extinguish a fire, always ensure you have a reliable escape route. If you are in a room or confined area, position yourself between the fire and the exit door. In other words, when you are facing the fire the exit door should be at your back.
  7. Do I have the right extinguisher?
  8. Make sure the extinguisher’s label indicates it is rated for use in fighting the type of fuel that is burning, and check if the extinguisher is fully charged, if not, your best option is to evacuate the building.
  9. What do my instincts tell me?
  10. If you do not feel comfortable trying to extinguish the fire, evacuate the building and let the fire department do their job. 

Extinguishing the Fire

If you decide to attempt to extinguish the fire, take the following actions:

  • Activate the fire alarm system to notify building occupants of the emergency
  • Notify SMU Police at 214-768-3333 or instruct someone to else to call. SMU Police dispatch will notify University Park Fire. *Note: Dialing 9-1-1 from a cellular device will not connect to SMU Police dispatch
  • Remember: Do not attempt to extinguish a fire until these actions are completed
  • Position yourself between the fire and your escape route, approximately six to eight feet from the fire
  • Remember the acronym P.A.S.S.:
  • P – Pull the pin that unlocks the operating handle
  • A – Aim the extinguisher low at the base of the fire
  • S – Squeeze the lever on the extinguisher to discharge the agent
  • S – Sweep the nozzle or hose from side to side, and continue to sweep the extinguisher back and forth at the base of the flames until the fire is out or the extinguisher is empty

After the Fire is Out…

Evacuate the building, and, if possible, inform first responders of the location of the fires location.

Not Extinguishing the Fire

If you do not attempt to extinguish the fire, evacuate the building. During evacuation you should take the following actions:

  • Evacuate the room and close the door behind you to confine the fire
  • Activate the fire alarm system to notify building occupants of the emergency
  • Notify SMU Police at 214-768-3333
  • Evacuate the building
  • Remain outside until notified by first responders or a University Official the building is safe to re-enter


Sign up for fire extinguisher training here (link to training once it is live on the new page).

Extinguishers are kept in the following locations on campus:

  • Fire Hose Cabinets - large, red metal cabinets commonly located in the walls of exit corridors. This is the most common location for portable extinguishers on campus.
  • Fire Extinguisher Cabinets - smaller, less-conspicuous cabinets usually located in exit corridors and recessed into the walls. This is a common extinguisher location in newer buildings.
  • Wall-mounted Brackets hold extinguishers that are not stored in cabinets. This method keeps extinguishers in plain view on the walls, and is most common in laboratory work areas, workshops, and large office suites.